TOURIST INFORMATION IN YANGON
Tourist Information: Myanmar Tourism Services, Suite 0706, 7th Floor, Yuzana Tower, No.(69), Shwe Gon Daing Road, Bahan Township, P.O 11201, Yangon, Myanmar., Tel: (+951) 552 762, 860 3331, 860 3332, Fax: (+951) 552 642, Mobile: (+95) 9516 8057, 9516 2039, 9732 16010, E-mail : email@example.com , firstname.lastname@example.org , email@example.com , Website: www.myanmartourismservices.com , www.mtstravelmyanmar.com
There are also tourist information offices at the Yangon Airport and the at Yangon railway station, but they usually don't have much stuff. The Myanmar Travel and Tours office is near Sule Pagoda. Limousine taxis and mini-buses are available in Yangon for sightseeing and up country tours. Exotissimo travel agency offers a three-hour "Architecture Walking Tour of Yangon," $23, http://www.exotissimo.com/travel/myanmar/daytrips/architecture-walking-tour
Orientation: Downtown Yangon is located around Sule Pagoda in an area between the Central Railway Station and the Yangon River. Here you can find cheap hotels, restaurants, the main markets, airline offices and tourist agencies. The streets are laid in a grid and it easy to get around on foot. In the 1990s, the names of streets were changed from English to Burmese. Prome Road, for example, became Pyi Road and Windermere Road became Thnlwin Road, after a large river.
About three kilometers north of the downtown area is Schwedagon Pagoda, a huge golden stupa on a hill visible for miles around. There are some nice parks and gardens in the vicinity of the pagoda. About three kilometers north of the pagoda is Inya Lake. Aung San Suu Kyi and Irrawaddy River’s generals have homes around the lake. Yangon university, many embassies and the luxurious Inya Lake Hotel are located nearby. Another pleasant area is around Kandawgyi Lake.
Accommodation in Yangon
Yangon has a handful of deluxe hotels, including the newly renovated Strand Hotel, Inya Lake Hotel, the Summit Parkview and numerous small upscale guest houses located around Inya Lake and on the road to the airport.
Popular budget hotel areas include the area around Bogyoke Aung San Street, across from the railway station, Sule Pagoda Road and Maha Bandoola Street. There are also quite a few standard hotels, cheap hostels, guest houses, and a YMCA and YWCA. Moderate hotels include the Summit Parkview. Among the Economy Hotels are Mother Land Inn-2, Central Hotel, Ocean Pearl Inn and Micasa Hotel Apartments The tourist office in Yangon and the hotel information desk at the airport can help you find a luxury or standard hotel. The Lonely Planet books have good lists of cheap accommodation options. Hotel touts wait outside the airport for new arrivals.
Strand Hotel is Yangon’s most famous and luxurious hotel. Built by the Armenian Sarkies brothers, who also built the Oriental in Bangkok and the Raffles in Singapore, it is housed in an elegant 1920s teak mansion on lush grounds, with doubles from $220. Among the famous guests who stayed were George Orwell, Rudyard Kipling and Somerset Maugham. In the early 1990s the hotel was given a $36 million overall by Adrian Zecha, the founder and designer of the Aman Resorts. The teak and brass rooms were fixed up and outfit with satellite television and other amenities. Rooms that used to go for $10 a night were jacked up to $500 a night. There is bar with a band that plays ragtime music and working air conditioners. Outside are beggars. The Strand, http://www.ghmhotels.com , doubles from $300. Governor's Residence, http://www.governorsresidence.com/ .
Entertainment in Yangon
Yangon isn't particularly known for its nightlife. Most discos, karaokes and nightclubs are found in the large hotels. There are several cinemas in the Sule Pagoda area and around the New Trader’s Hotel. Some have plush 1950s-style seats. Most of the movies they show are Indian action films. Sometimes they show European, Chinese, Japanese, and American films. Budget travelers hang out at the cafes and restaurants in the Sule Pagoda. Some of the major hotels have floor shows and ethnic minority dance performances.
Karaoke is popular with locals and tourists. Traditional dances and puppet shows are organized by Tour Operators and also available at Karaweik Hall. Beauty salons and spa treatment salons have increased in Yangon.A calendar of events may be obtained from tourist offices and travel agencies. Also check out the Yangon newspapers, the Lonely Planet Books and posters put up around town. Concerts featuring traditional Burmese music and dance are rare. Sometimes pop music shows are held. If you get bored, having your fortune read at temple is always fun. Try to bring along a Burmese person so you know what the fortune tellers says.
Ceil Miller Bouchet wrote in the New York Times: A slightly stodgy medley of teakwood, black leather and whirring ceiling fans, the Strand Bar comes to life during Friday evening happy hour, when drinks are half price and a worldly mélange of hotel guests, expatriates and locals gather to throw back a Dagon Beer (on tap, 3,000 kyat, or about $3 at 940 kyat to the dollar) or sip a Strand Sour made with Mandalay rum (about 8,000 kyat). Local intelligence flows freely, as in the days when the likes of George Orwell or Rudyard Kipling came here. The Strand Bar, 92 Strand Road; hotelthestrand.com. [Source: Ceil Miller Bouchet, New York Times, February 7, 2014]
”A few blocks farther on Strand Road, in the majestic Myanmar Red Cross Building, is the new Union Bar & Grill, opened last March, where you’ll find seasonal food, free Wi-Fi and cocktails like the Mango Sunset, with house-infused Kaffir lime rum (about 6,500 kyat). Union Bar & Grill, 42 Strand Road; unionyangon.com., 19th Street, between Maha Bandoola and Anawrahta Roads. Ko San Bar, 108 19th Street. Taing Yin Thar Myanmar National Restaurant, 5A Parami Road, 95-1-9660-792. Khine Khine Kyaw, 42 A Parami Road, 95-9-7300-6422.
”Catch your breath after shopping by joining Burma’s older middle class who have retained a taste for afternoon tea and worldly conversation. At posh and polished Acacia Tea Salon, in a restored mansion, goodies like cream-and-strawberry “Napoleons” and salmon-and-cucumber finger sandwiches served with a choice of over 20 imported teas (or a glass of bubbly) will restore even the most heat-wilted of travelers. Acacia Tea Salon, 52 Saya San Road; acaciateasalon.com.”
Restaurants in Yangon
The best restaurants are generally located in or around the large hotels. Burmese food, Chinese food, Italian food, Thai food, Japanese food, Indian food, Korean food and other international cuisines are all available in Yangon, which is still largely uncharted territory for American burger joints and pizza places. There are lots of cheap Chinese and Indian restaurants around Sule Pagoda Road and Anawrahta Street. There also lots of snack vendors and food stalls in the back streets around Sule Pagoda and around nearby Maha Bandoola Park. There are also many good cheap restaurants around Bogyoke Market. Chinatown is of course a good place to sample Chinese food.
Ceil Miller Bouchet wrote in the New York Times: When the tropical sun goes down, 19th Street, between Maha Bandoola and Anawrahta Roads, still sizzles. Mounds of grill-ready raw meat and fresh seafood, arrayed on outdoor tables along this lively pedestrian stretch, lie ready to meet their fiery fate. A grilled fish runs about 5,000 kyat. Squeamish about street food? No worries, there’s enough cheap draft beer and cocktails at places like Ko San Bar for a second happy hour. Other local dinner options featuring Burmese specialties from salads to curries, like Taing Yin Thar Myanmar National Restaurant or Khine Khine Kyaw, are a taxi hop away near Inya Lake, a more residential area of town where once-posh villas peek from behind mildew-streaked walls and lush foliage. Dinner at either place will cost 10,000 to 15,000 kyat. [Source: Ceil Miller Bouchet, New York Times, February 7, 2014]
”One of the first old shop houses to be restored for public use, Monsoon Restaurant & Bar captures an updated rattan-and-fan vibe. Grab a window table and refuel with iced coffee, juices or a pan-Asian lunch (beef Thai green curry, 7,000 kyat; Vietnamese spring rolls, 5,000 kyat) as street life unrolls outside: gentlemen smoking cheroots, women carrying umbrellas for shade. Upstairs, at the nonprofit, fair-trade Pomelo Boutique, expat volunteers market the work of about 20 Burmese artisan groups. Proceeds from beaded jewelry, glassware, handmade toys (3,000 to 25,000 kyat) and textiles by traditional weavers from conflict-ridden Rakhine State revert to the local communities. Monsoon Restaurant & Bar, 85-87 Theinbyu Road; monsoonmyanmar.com.
”Prolong the languor with French-Indochina cuisine like spicy lobster and seafood pasta (23,000 kyat) at Le Planteur, in a brick colonial-era villa near Shwedagon Pagoda. The restaurant combines fine dining, a funky cocktail lounge and a jaw-dropping wine cellar (1950 Château Pétrus, anyone?). Plus, they’ll send a complementary car from their vintage fleet (like the Vauxhall 1947 sedan) to chauffeur you to and from the restaurant. Le Planteur, 22 Kaba Aye Pagoda Road; leplanteur.net.
”Noodle dishes are to Burmese as pasta is to Italians. Every region has its own take. Spicy noodles from Shan State, a rural, mountainous region in eastern Myanmar bordering Thailand, Laos and China, may be the best. You can try them at 999 Shan Noodle Shop, a spotless hole-in-the-wall just behind Yangon City Hall. Venerable Shwe Yi, a short taxi ride from the Sule Pagoda, serves excellent noodles as well. Try the ohno kaukswe (coconut noodles, 500 kyat), a favorite Burmese snack. 999 Shan Noodle Shop, 130B 34th Street. Shwe Yi, 27 Maha Bawga Road.”
SHOPPING IN YANGON
The best place to shop for souvenirs, gifts, jade, rubies and other items is the Bogyoke Aung Sang market, located a couple of blocks from the train station on Aung San Road. It has over 2,000 shops and is open everyday except Sunday from 8:00am to 6:00pm. Across the street is the New Bo Gyoke market, where local people shop for things like tools, cheap clothes and household appliances.
Scotts Market (Mahabandoola Street) is a good place to shop for souvenirs, silks, lacquerware and carvings. Chinatown has some good gold shops. Thiri Mingala Fish Market is worth a look. Thein Gyi Market sells snakes for eating and either exotic stuff. There is also a Chinese market, Indian Market and smelly Khielly Fish Market. The “Welcome to Myanmar Guide” put out by the government tourist office lists department stores, tapestry shops, art galleries, arts and crafts shops, lacquerware shops, sculptors, antique shops, gold shops, silver shops, jewelry shops, ivory shops and Burmese clothing shops.
Ceil Miller Bouchet wrote in the New York Times: Within a short radius of Sule Pagoda, a historic place of worship now in the midst of a roaring traffic circle, you can spot landmarks like Immanuel Baptist Church, the Bengali Sunni Jameh Mosque, the former Rowe & Company department store and City Hall — a lavender-painted pastiche combining Burmese and British style. On nearby Pansodan Street, outdoor booksellers display Mad Men-era tomes like “Marxist Philosophy” and “Business Systems Development.” In a gorgeously decrepit building, Lokanat Gallery hosts contemporary art exhibitions. Sule Pagoda. Lokanat Gallery, 62 Pansodan Street; lokanatgalleries.com. [Source: Ceil Miller Bouchet, New York Times, February 7, 2014]
Bogyoke Aung San Market (formerly Scott Market), a sprawling enclosure built in 1926, is the place to buy the sarong-like longyi, (about 2,000 to 20,000 kyat). For ethnic textiles, head upstairs to Yoyamay. Other items include jade jewelry, lacquer ware and curios like temple bells. Bogyoke Aung San Market. Room 20, Main Front Building.”
Bogyoke Aung San Market
Bogyoke Aung San Market (on Bogyoke Aung San Road) is the most popular market in Yangon and a great tourist destination. It is located a precious colonial building. The market was first built and inaugurated on the present premises in 1926. It was named Scott Market after Mr. C. Scott. the then Municipal Commissioner. Nowadays. it is called Bogyoke Aung San Market in honour of our national leader General Aung San who was assassinated in 1947.
There are 1,641 shops selling luxury items, handicrafts, foodstuffs, clothing, jewelry, fashion and consumer goods. The market is a square type based and therefore divided into the East wing, West wing. North wing and South wing. The shopping items are not categorized in the respective wings. There are also traditional. Myanmar and Chinese food stalls in the market.
Bogyoke Aung San Market is also well-known for the pre-Thingyan festival also called the Zay Thingyan meaning the Market's water festival. It is usually held on the 11th or 12th of April. Youngsters from all over the city come to the market dressed for the festival. The shops donates traditional food such as Monte Lone Yay Paw, Thargu. and Shwe Yin Aye. Hours: 9:00 am to 5:00 pm. Closed on gazette holidays. Admission Fees: US$2 per person.
In front of the Bogyoke Aung San Market. there is the busy Shwe Bon Thar Street (formerly known as the Mongol Street). where most of Yangon's popular clinics are located. Next to the Bogyoke Aung San market. there is the 9-storey FMI building. Some shops and some offices are located in that building. Then you can find the Grand Meeyatthar Housing. which is a nice place for you to stay downtown. The Traders Hotel is nearby the market. at the corner of Bogyoke Aung San Road and Sule Pagoda Road.
TRANSPORTATION IN YANGON
Taxis are fairly cheap and they are the easiest way to get around. Buses and tuk tuks are also available. Taxis are available everywhere in Yangon. Once you hire a taxi, you tell the place you want to go and you ask how much the trip will cost. The least would be about Ks. 700, and more depending on your journey. Now, there are natural-gas-powered (CNG) Parami Taxis. For more information see the "Getting Around Within Cities" section earlier in the text.
By Bus: There are over 250 bus lines running around Yangon. There are over 2.5 million commuters a day. Recently, CNG (Compressed Natural Gas) was introduced as new fuel for buses operating in Yangon. The bus fares starts from Ks 40 to Ks 120, depending on the distance the traveler takes. By Train: Circular Train service is available. There are 11 local trains for circular services through 37 railway stations. The train fares are cheaper than the bus fares. Yangon Central Railways Station near Aung San Stadium is the main station in Yangon. By Ferry Boat: For the commuters from Dala, to cross the Yangon River, takes about 10 minutes. They steam between Pansodan Warf and Dala Warf.
Bus Stations: There are two highway bus terminals, one known as Dagon Ayeyar Highway Bus Terminal (Hwy No 5, Yangon-Pathein Rd in Hlaing Tharyar Township), which is mainly for the buses going to the Irrawaddy Division and the Irrawaddy Delta. The other terminal is Aung Mingalar Highway Bus Terminal, which is for the buses to the cities and towns for the whole country, except the Irrawaddy Division.
According to Lonely Planet: The Highway Bus Centre (Aung Mingalar Bus Terminal) serves the most destinations. It is a confusing array of competing bus companies in a dusty lot, just southwest of Yangon Airport. The Hlaing Thar Yar Bus Terminal is a good 45 minutes west of the centre on the other side of the Hlaing River. Guesthouses can assist with purchasing tickets, which will certainly save time, if not money. Bigger companies with bus-ticket offices opposite the Central Train Station include Kyaw Express (242473), Sun Moon Express (642903) and Transnational Express (249671).
Train Stations: The Central railway Station is located north of the downtown area across the street from Aung San Stadium. The art-deco train station is crowned with four traditional Burmese temple spires. Interesting advertisements are posted inside. Myanma Railways operate 40 train-routes throughout the country. Tickets are available at Yangon Central Railway Station.
Boat Dock : Boat services are available for Irrawaddy Delta region. Tickets are available at Lan Thit Jetty in Seikkan Township.
Text Sources: Myanmar Travel Information, New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Times of London, Lonely Planet Guides, The Irrawaddy, Compton’s Encyclopedia, The Guardian, National Geographic, Smithsonian magazine, The New Yorker, Time, Newsweek, Reuters, AP, AFP, burmalibrary.org, burmanet.org, Wikipedia, BBC, CNN, and various books and other publications.
Last updated August 2020